Sheriff Accused of Assaulting Church Youth Leader Must Surrender Guns, Can Stay on Job

An Idaho sheriff who allegedly threatened a church youth group with a firearm and assaulted one member will be allowed to keep his job but he has to give up all his guns to the Idaho State Police.

Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland took a leave of absence shortly after the accusations against him were brought up in November, but he has already returned back to work.

The youth group was from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which consisted of girls aged 12 to 16, and they were delivering thank-you notes to members of the congregation on November 9, investigators with the Idaho attorney general's office wrote in court documents. Members of the group were reportedly approaching the homes of churchgoers, taping the notes to their doors, ringing the doorbells and then running away before they could be seen.

The alleged encounter took place when seven members of the group and one adult leader entered Rowland's neighborhood to deliver a note to him and his wife, according to court documents. Both the youth group members and the sheriff, who were interviewed separately by investigators, reportedly said that Rowland stopped their car from driving away after they left him the note.

Rowland allegedly pulled the adult driver out of the car by her hair, reportedly pointed his handgun at her head and yelled profanities at her, according to court documents.

The Wednesday ruling that allowed Rowland to stay on the job but give up his firearms, also ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victims.

Sheriff Assault Allegations
A Idaho sheriff who allegedly threatened a church youth group with a firearm and reportedly assaulted one member will be allowed to keep his job, but has to give up all his guns to the Idaho State Police. Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland took a leave of absence shortly after the accusations against him were brought up in November, but he has already returned back to work. Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

The Idaho attorney general's office earlier this month charged Rowland with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and misdemeanor exhibition of a gun. Rowland did not enter a plea on Wednesday, his first appearance in court on the charges. First appearances involve procedural matters such as advising people of their rights.

Prosecutors on Wednesday sought to have Judge Faren Eddins require Rowland to take a prolonged leave. But Eddins said Rowland was innocent until proven guilty and denied that request.

Rowland said he had received threats in recent months and worried about people coming to his home. In a statement, he disparaged the people on the nearby Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' Fort Hall Reservation, referencing intoxication, calling them "not good people" and saying their proximity was the reason for his actions.

Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers, Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll and the tribes have called on Rowland to step down.

Rowland is next scheduled to appear in court on January 26.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Church Group Assault Accusations
A youth group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was allegedly threatened and one of its members assaulted by an Idaho sheriff in November. The San Diego California Temple is seen on August 8, 2020 in La Jolla, California. RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images